In past years, amalgam (metal) fillings were the only option to repair minor tooth damage and cavities. But today, patients have a more attractive option in tooth-colored fillings. Made of composite resin, these fillings are both aesthetically pleasing and long-lasting. As a trusted dentist, Dr. Matthew Warner often meets with patients who ask if they should replace their amalgam fillings for ones made of composite resin. He is also aware that there are lots of questions pertaining to whether amalgam fillings are dangerous to one’s health. Here, Dr. Warner sets the record straight on the safety of amalgam fillings and discusses when replacement is necessary.

Amalgam Fillings are Safe

Amalgam fillings are composed of a mixture of silver, tin, copper and mercury. Amalgam releases low levels of mercury in the form of a vapor that can be inhaled and absorbed by the body. While research does show that high levels of mercury vapor exposure are associated with adverse health effects, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reviewed scientific evidence on amalgam fillings and has determined that the amount of mercury released by amalgam fillings is well below levels associated with adverse health effects. For this reason, the FDA only supports the removal of amalgam fillings if they are old and have led to complications. The American Dental Association (ADA) also considers amalgam fillings a safe and effective treatment for cavities.

When Amalgam Fillings Need to be Replaced

With good oral health care, amalgam fillings can last for many years. They only need to be replaced if they have developed complications or defects. For instance, if the filling or tooth has cracked or chipped, or if decay has accumulated underneath the filling, it can be replaced with a composite resin filling. However, Dr. Warner does not replace older fillings unless there is a legitimate need. Like with any dental restoration, metal fillings should be monitored by your dentist regularly to ensure their functionality. If a problem is detected, it can be addressed promptly.

Many patients desire to replace their fillings for cosmetic reasons. Although effective, metal fillings are conspicuous and leave a less than desirable metal mark in one’s smile. Composite resin fillings are designed to the match the color of natural teeth, creating a strong and seamless smile. If you are unhappy with your metal fillings, Dr. Warner will meet with you to examine them and evaluate your oral health in order to determine whether removing and replacing them is safe.

Learn More from Willoughby Dental

To learn more about dental fillings, schedule a one-on-one appointment with Dr. Warner. Please call our Greenville dental office at (864) 546-4242.